#TakeBackTheTax WILL NOT BE SILENCED BY THE INTIMIDATION TACTICS OF ILLEGAL CIGARETTE MAKERS 

MEDIA STATEMENT
Wednesday 28 November 2018
#TakeBackTheTax WILL NOT BE SILENCED BY THE INTIMIDATION TACTICS OF ILLEGAL CIGARETTE MAKERS
#TakeBackTheTax has noted a legal threat by Gold Leaf Tobacco saying “we will not be silenced or intimidated and we will continue to expose the illegal cigarette trade until they pay their taxes or SARS wakes up and shuts them down”
An ISPOS study – commissioned by the Tobacco Institute of Southern Africa (TISA) and published yesterday shows that RG (the brand owned by Gold Leaf Tobacco), is the biggest selling brand on the market, selling for R10 a pack which can only mean it is an illegal tax dodging brand.
It is clearly not paying the taxes owed of R17.85 per pack.
The numbers speak for themselves.
Gold Leaf Tobacco can’t sue facts.  If they want to try, we are ready and stand by all of our statements relating to the IPSOS report. Otherwise, Gold Leaf, and other illegal cigarette companies, should stop wasting time with spurious legal threats and pay their taxes like every one else.
And if they do not, SARS should stop fiddling while the economy burns and close them down.
The tax evasion by those implicated in the IPSOS report now means that South Africa is losing at least R8 billion annually in taxes. This is unacceptable and this is illegal.
#TakeBackTheTax will not be intimidated or gagged by Gold Leaf’s legal threats and their ridiculous demand of R50 million from its spokesperson, Yusuf Abramjee.
“These types of bullying tactics are unacceptable and we will fight this in court and allow the issue to be tested in a court of law,” said Abramjee.
He added: “#TakeBackTheTax is very eager to see how a court of law will view this flagrant disregard of South Africa’s tax laws.”
ENDS
Enquiries:
Yusuf Abramjee
Spokesperson
#TakeBackTheTax

SOUTH AFRICA LOSING AN EXTRA ONE BILLION RAND TO ILLEGAL CIGARETTES

MEDIA STATEMENT

For Immediate Release

Tuesday
27 November 2018

SOUTH AFRICA LOSING AN EXTRA ONE BILLION RAND TO ILLEGAL CIGARETTES

SOUTH AFRICA is losing an extra R1 billion, now at least R8 billion in total, to illegal cigarette companies who aggressively grew their distribution and sales in the last three months.

The #TakeBackTheTax (TBTT) Campaign called this development, revealed by new research from IPSOS, “a terrible indictment on the SA Revenue Service (SARS)”.

The new IPSOS report, released today, shows that illegal cigarettes have now captured over 42% of the South African informal trade and are available in three out of every four shops in the country.

#TakeBackTheTax spokesperson, Yusuf Abramjee, says he is shocked by rapid growth in the illegal cigarette crisis, especially after a promised crackdown by SARS.

“We now have a situation where the biggest selling brand in South Africa, RG, is an illegal brand. That has, apparently, never happened before in any country in the world,” said Abramjee.

#TakeBackTheTax can also reveal that SARS’s failure to act against tax dodging manufacturers has now cost the country yet another billion Rand, with lost tax revenue going from 7 billion Rand to a massive 8 billion Rand.

“This is unacceptable and our biggest worry is that this figure will continue to rise even further – hitting the 10 billion Rand mark, if SARS continues to turn a blind eye to this illegality” said Abramjee.

Abramjee called on SARS to stop playing games with this issue and to actually start acting, as promised.

“If this is a SARS crackdown then the multi-billionaire bosses of the illegal companies must be rolling on the floor laughing.”

Last week, the Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) officially announced that RG, South Africa’s biggest cigarette brand, is an illegal cigarette because it is not paying taxes. It is being smuggled in huge quantities into Lesotho and earlier this month the LRA seized 380,000 RGs on their way into Lesotho from South Africa. This was the largest single seizure of the past five years.

Abramjee asked why it’s left to the Lesotho Revenue Authority to take a stand against this fraud and tax evasion in South Africa. “Where is our own SA Revenue Service, and why are they not doing anything?”

Abramjee added that there’s also an added worry around small traders who are now at risk since illegal cigarettes are liable to seizure by SARS.

Abramjee said: “These massive companies, taking in billions of Rands in illegal profits, right under the nose of our law enforcement authorities are getting away scot-free while small traders take all the risk of seizure and closure for selling illegal cigarettes”.

#TakeBackTheTax welcomes the move by some retailers who are now taking action. Supermarket chain, SPAR has bravely decided to remove all illegal cigarettes from their shelves until their makers start paying their taxes.

“This is excellent news, and we call on all other supermarkets and retail stores selling fake cigarettes to be good corporate citizens and desist from doing so immediately” said Abramjee.

“Even the Nugent Commission of Inquiry said that there is no more time to waste – it is high time for SARS to wake up and take the fight to the tobacco companies themselves,” added Abramjee.

#TakeBackTheTax is committed to continuing with this campaign.
Over 22 000 members of the public have already signed a petition calling on authorities to act now and reclaim the billions of Rands in lost tax revenue.

To add your name to the petition go to TakeBackTheTax.org.za
On twitter: @takebackthetax

ENDS

Yusuf Abramjee
#TakeBackTheTax Spokesperson
082 441 4203
@Abramjee

#TakeBackTheTax WELCOMES THE CONFISCATION OF ILLEGAL CIGARETTES FROM SOUTH AFRICA BY THE LESOTHO REVENUE AUTHORITY (LRA)

MEDIA STATEMENT

For Immediate Release
Monday.

19 November, 2018

#TakeBackTheTax has praised the Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) for confiscating 380 000 RG cigarettes from South Africa.

The RG cigarettes, made in South Africa, where they should have paid excise duties, were confiscated at Maseru Bridge. They had evaded both excise due in South Africa and VAT owed to the LRA.

The LRA said in a statement the breakthrough came after “routine checks on compliance of tobacco and tobacco products in Lesotho. This is the biggest single bust on illegal cigarettes in Lesotho in the past five years.”
(See statement by LRA attached)

#TakeBackTheTax spokesperson, Yusuf Abramjee, says it’s great to see a clampdown in the neighbouring country of Lesotho, adding “it takes a foreign tax authority to clamp down on illegal products manufactured in South Africa!”

Abramjee said that while “some efforts have been made locally, law enforcement agencies are still doing far too little. Illegal cigarettes are being openly sold in broad daylight.”

It is no secret that illegal cigarettes are being sold virtually on the doorstep of the SARS headquarters and National Treasury in Pretoria.

Over 22 000 members of the public have already signed a petition calling on authorities to act now and reclaim the billions of Rands in lost tax revenue.

Abramjee said: “We again call on authorities to step up their game and act decisively. The illegal cigarette trade is flourishing, and the question must now be asked as to how long we must sit back and watch the lawlessness continue.”

As we approach the budget, “National Treasury will be thinking about increasing taxes once again on law abiding citizens but what is the point when the government doesn’t collect taxes owed from criminals. The illegal manufacturers will be laughing all the way to the bank”

Abramjee, who was recently elected Vice President of Crime Stoppers International (SCI), said while it was a global problem, Southern Africa appears to be a hub for the illicit trade. He has appealed to the public to blow the whistle on those involved in the manufacture, distribution and sale of illicit cigarettes.

“While we welcome a few small efforts in South Africa, the ‘big fish’ are getting away scott-free.”

To add your name to the petition go to TakeBackTheTax.org.za
On twitter: @takebackthetax

ENDS

Yusuf Abramjee
#TakeBackTheTax spokesperson
@Abramjee

eNCA will launch a new weekly programme on crime in November.

South Africa’s crime rate is a national crisis. With over 50 murders a day, Police Minister Bheki Cele says we are almost on a par with countries at war.

As a news channel, we feel a responsibility to play our part in fighting this war, and that is why we are launching Crimewatch.

Crimewatch is a weekly programme that will be hosted by the passionate anti-crime advocate and vice president of Crime Stoppers International, Yusuf Abramjee.

“I’m excited to host the show. We want to make South Africa safe, and Crimewatch will go a long way to contributing to safer neighbourhoods,” says Yusuf.

Yusuf will use his extensive contacts and relationships with police and security structures to bring our viewers up to date on crime fighting in South Africa.

The programme will include verified footage of actual crime scenes, interviews with crime experts and updates on arrests.

Says Yusuf, “Crimewatch is going to make a difference. We will also feature wanted criminals and missing persons. We want the show to be interactive, and viewers are welcome to share with us.”

Crimewatch will also share tips on how to stay safe and protected in a crime-challenged country.

eNCA Editor-in-Chief Mapi Mhlangu says, “Over many years Yusuf has established himself as one of South Africa’s leading crime journalists and has a deep understanding of our criminal justice system. We’re confident he will use these strengths to broaden the debate over the crime scourge in the country; highlight deficiencies in the system and also give praise when due to the SAPS in their daily battle on the crime frontlines.”

Crimewatch starts on eNCA (DStv Channel 403) on Wednesday, 14 November at 9:30pm.

Released by:
Twanji Kalula
twanji.kalula@etv.co.za
021 481 4779
082 777 1226

Facebook: eNCAnews
Youtube: eNCA
Twitter: @enca
Website: www.enca.com

DStv Channel 403

Abramjee pointed Vice President of global crime fighting organization #CSI

Crime Stoppers International Announces New Board Appointees
CSI appoints new President and Vice President to its global board

The new President of Crime Stoppers International (CSI) Sharon Hanlon and Vice President Yusuf Abramjee. On the left is CEO Rudd Smulders and COO Devrol Dupigny (right)

THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS -At its 39th annual conference, Crime Stoppers International (CSI) announced Sharon Hanlon, Director from Region Five (Australia/New Zealand/South-East Asia) and Yusuf Abramjee, one of the Directors for Region Seven (South Africa) as elected President and Vice President to lead CSI. In the 40 years since Crime Stoppers began, this is the first time a woman has served as president.

CSI President Sharon Hanlon, Adelaide, South Australia
With more than two decades executive experience, Hanlon brings a unique and diverse perspective to the CSI leadership role. She’s led large-scale projects for government agencies and the private sector with a proven track record for contributing to cultural change, business strategy and corporate planning. Hanlon is well-versed in corporate governance thanks to her experience serving as the director for a number of public and private sector boards. She’s served in several Crime Stoppers leadership roles during the last decade and is currently Chair of Crime Stoppers South Australia Inc, Deputy Chairman Crime Stoppers Australia and after two and a half years as a CSI Director, is now President of CSI. Hanlon managed the Public Affairs Division for 10 years at the South Australian Royal Automobile Association on behalf of its 650,000 members. This provided her with significant exposure to working within federated models – both nationally and internationally – and saw her make important contributions to corporate governance, business strategy, public policy development and advocacy.
“CSI is an organization making significant advances through its collaboration with government, media, law enforcement and the general public,” said Hanlon. “As president, I look forward to exploring the exciting opportunities that have presented during the CSI Hague conference from some of our existing partners, but also prospective partners and key stakeholders. We’ve accomplished a great deal in our time, but there is still so much more that we can achieve through innovative partnerships.”
CSI Vice President Yusuf Abramjee, Pretoria, South Africa
Abramjee has been an anti-crime and social activist for many years. He is the Head of #MakeSASafe, Chief Ambassador of the Namola/DialDirect Safety App and Spokesperson for the #TaxBackBack campaign.
As a former teacher, crime reporter, crime editor, news editor, station manager, head of news and media executive, Abramjee has earned multiple awards for his tireless efforts to empower the citizens of South Africa to report criminal behavior, journalism, leadership and community activism.
He received a National Order from the Government of South Africa in 2014. Abramjee’s penchant for engaging the public and exposing criminal activity will help CSI further its goals.
“Fighting crime and creating a safer world has been and will always be close to my heart,” said Abramjee. “I fully understand the importance of communicating, networking, alliances and partnerships and making a difference. I look forward to serving CSI and our delegates in this new leadership role.
I thank CSI directors and members for the confidence they have in me. I am humbled and honoured to be elected Vice President,” Abramjee added.
About CSI
Crime Stoppers International is the global authority on anonymous reporting and is the umbrella organization for approximately 800 certified Crime Stoppers programs operating in 26 different countries across seven geographic regions. Its mission is “to mobilize the world to report information on crime anonymously.” Since its founding in 1976, information provided through the network has led to more than one million arrests and 1.5 million cases solved. The group maintains a co-operation agreement with INTERPOL and has collaborative agreements with organizations such as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the CNN Freedom Project (CNN), Airline Ambassadors International (AAI) and the International Police Training Institute (IPTI). For the full conference schedule visit www.CSIWorld.org.

20 000+ CITIZENS SUPPORT #TakeBackTheTax

MEDIA STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monday
29 October 2018

The #TakeBackTheTax campaign has surpassed a significant milestone and is thrilled to announce that over 20 000 citizens have added their names to this important campaign.

#TakeBackTheTax was launched a few months ago and calls on Government, SARS and law enforcement agencies to urgently act and “take immediate steps” to combat the trade of illegal cigarettes.

By acting against illicit cigarette traders, the South African economy could take back at least R7 billion in potential tax revenue every year.

This money could be used to put back into communities, and areas of the SA economy that need it most.

The illicit cigarette trade is a huge problem in South Africa, yet cigarettes that cost as little as R5 remain widely available and are found in almost all informal shops in the country. This is illegal.

It is now clear that South Africans agree that this practice must stop and that Government must #TakeBackTheTax as a matter of urgency.

#TakeBackTheTax spokesperson, Yusuf Abramjee, said it’s evident that this campaign has massive support: “I’ve personally visited several shopping centers across the country and spoken to people who have pledged their full support. They are 100% behind us!”

“South Africans are tired of unethical business practices and are now demanding that the relevant authorities #TakeBackTheTax” added Abramjee.

Abramjee has also vowed that this is just the beginning, “We are committed to this campaign and are calling on all South Africans to keep signing their names to this petition so that we can double and triple this number”.

“We will continue to engage with Government and SARS at the highest levels, in an attempt to get them to act. These illicit cigarette traders and manufacturers are acting with impunity and they are literally robbing our country daily”.

Abramjee added that the R7 billion in lost money is only the tip of the iceberg.

“This is money that could be helping the poorest of the poor, money that could be invested in policing, the healthcare system, education, social grants and so much more. Why are we allowing criminal enterprises to rob our people?”

All those law abiding citizens who wish to add their names to the #TakeBackTheTax campaign can visit takebackthetax.org. They can also follow
@takebackthetax on Twitter.

By 9.30am this morning, a total of 21690 people signed the submission.

Abramjee said #TakeBackTheTax cautiously welcomes the announcement by acting SARS commissioner, Mark Kingon, that a special unit was being established to clampdown on the illicit trade.

We believe some 58 cases are currently under investigation.

“We welcome the start of some raids but so far they have not even scratched the surface. It is not small shops that need to be the focus of SARS’ efforts but big wholesalers and the illegal manufacturers themselves. We need sustained operations and we need to stop the illegal tobacco trade.

“We appeal to the public to blow the whistle on the illegal trade. Please contact SARS and pass on information anonymously.”

Abramjee said he remained hopeful that SARS was going to act.

“We want to see sustained operations targeting the big fish, not just small resellers”

At the SARS Inquiry, it became evident that suspended commissioner Tom Moyane, ordered a slow down of operations into the illicit trade.

“The tax holiday for illegal tobacco must end. We need the laws to be implemented. Citizens are calling for this. Instead of increasing taxes, #TakeBackTheTax, the billions that are being evaded,” Abramjee added.

ENDS

Yusuf Abramjee
Spokesperson
#TakeBackTheTax
Cell 082 4414 203
(Please call/text via What’s App)
Twitter: @abramjee
@takebackthetax

Photos:

Caption:

Over 20 000 citizens have signed a #TaxBackTheTax submission calling for urgent action to stop the sale of illegal cigarettes.

NUGENT INQUIRY CONFIRMS ILLEGAL CIGARETTE MAKERS OPERATE WITH IMPUNITY

MEDIA RELEASE: NUGENT INQUIRY CONFIRMS ILLEGAL CIGARETTE MAKERS OPERATE WITH IMPUNITY

For Immediate Release

Wednesday
17 October 2018

#TakeBackTheTax welcomes the publication of the Nugent Inquiry report which confirms what it has been telling the public all along – that there is rampant tax evasion in the tobacco industry – as a direct result of Tom Moyane’s devastation of SARS.

In his report, Judge Nugent found: “Measures to counter criminality have been compromised and those who trade illicitly in commodities like tobacco operate with little constraint.”

Testimony after testimony detailed how the suspended SARS commissioner and his acolytes protected illegal cigarette makers in South Africa.

As early as June, former Chief Officer, Gene Ravele, testified that the decline in tax revenue from tobacco was “planned” and that investigators were instructed to stop inspecting cigarette factories.

Last month it was revealed that in 2016, Moyane failed to investigate intelligence that one of his top officials was colluding with a known tobacco smuggler and instead sanctioned the hounding out of SARS of Yousef Denath, the man who had brought the matter to his attention, and Kumaren Moodley, once described as “the last Jedi” in the fight against illicit trade.

The cost of this corruption is clear.

The Nugent Report states “those who trade in illicit tobacco operate with little constraint” and there is a “material and ongoing loss of revenue from tobacco related taxes for want of investigation and vastly diminished regulation of the illicit economy”.

This also follows the release of the IPSOS report in July which exposed that cheap, illegal cigarettes sell for between R5 – R10 in three out of every four informal shops in the country.

The brands are being openly sold and authorities know who the culprits are.

#TakeBackTheTax is demanding an immediate clampdown.

The cost to the fiscus is at least R7 billion a year and possibly much more.

According to #TakeBackTheTax spokesperson, Yusuf Abramjee, “we feel vindicated by the findings of the Nugent report and believe there is no better time for new SARS Commissioner, Mark Kingon, to commit to prioritising this matter and dealing with it immediately.

“Kingon has vowed to take action and now that the SARS Inquiry has confirmed that illicit traders continue to operate with impunity, he must end it now.”

Abramjee also called on all South Africans to sign the #TakeBackTheTax petition which calls on Government to act with urgency and clamp down on the trade of illegal cigarettes.

“Over 17 000 people have now signed up, and their voices cannot and should not be ignored. We are now demanding action.

“South Africa needs its money back,” said Abramjee.

Citizens have been urged to continue to support the #TakeBackTheTax campaign by signing their names at takebackthetax.org

ENDS
Enquiries:

Yusuf Abramjee
Spokesperson
#TakeBackTheTax
Cell: 0824414203
Twitter
@abramjee
@takebackthetax

THOUSANDS MORE ADD THEIR NAME TO THE #TakeBackTheTax CAMPAIGN

MEDIA UPDATE:

Sunday 7 October 2018

THOUSANDS MORE ADD THEIR NAME TO THE #TakeBackTheTax CAMPAIGN

Almost 14 000 citizens have now added their names to a campaign calling on Government to act immediately and stop the illegal cigarette trade.

#TakeBackTheTax was launched by the Tobacco Institute of Southern Africa (TISA) a few weeks ago.

The campaign calls on authorities to act as a matter of urgency and stop the illegal cigarette trade, as it is costing the country millions of rands.

“Our economy is losing billions of rands because of the illegal cigarette trade. This money could be used to get much needed resources and basic services to citizens,” said spokesman for #TakeBackTheTax, Yusuf Abramjee.

He said the last two weeks has seen a significant increase in the number of names that have been added.
At least 4000 citizens made their submission in the past 14 days.

The submission reads as follows:

“I Implore the South African Revenue Service, the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa and law enforcement agencies to act with urgency and take decisive steps in combating the trade of illegal cigarettes. By doing so we will stop the South African economy from losing R7 billion in potential tax revenue every year. I ask that the aforementioned parties conduct thorough investigations into claims of tax evasion by all cigarette manufacturers, to implement and enforce new laws to mitigate the negative impact that illegal cigarettes have on low-income communities.”

Abramjee, who is also an anti-crime activist, said that “it is clear from revelations before the SARS Inquiry that the dramatic growth in illicit trade in the tobacco sector is the result of deliberate and corrupt decisions by the former SARS administration. The new administration which has been in place for more than 7 months, has promised a lot but nothing has been done. Illegal cigarette companies have had a tax enforcement holiday for 4 years now. This national disgrace must end”

“It’s daylight robbery to see cigarettes openly being sold for between R5 and R10. Tax is being evaded. This nonsense must stop,” he said.

Abramjee said this is “tax evasion in its crudest form and the distributors responsible are using ‘multiple invoicing’ techniques as a way to mislead and trick SARS and avoid paying tax and excise duties.”

He appealed to the public to continue to add their names to the submission by visiting www.takebackthetax.org

Follow the campaign on Twitter: @takebackthetax

Abramjee said: “It’s extremely encouraging to see more and more South Africans standing up and taking a stand against this specific type of lawlessness. We urge everyone to do the right thing and join our movement.

“Let’s all become active citizens and let’s tell authorities loud and clear: #TakeBackTheTax

End

Enquiries:
Yusuf Abramjee
Spokesperson
Cell 082 4414 203
Twitter: @abramjee

*INTERVIEWS: Please what’s app